Excellencies, Permanent Representatives to the United Nations
Your Excellency Ambassador Tete Antonio, Permanent Observer of the AU to the United Nations, Distinguished Representatives of African Regional Economic Communities, Distinguished Delegates, Colleagues from the UN system, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great Pleasure to preside over this first ever briefing of African Regional Economic Communities to you, the Member States of the United Nations.
This event has been co-organized with the Permanent Observer Mission of the African Union to the United Nations here in New York. I would like to thank Ambassador Tete Antonio and his office for their kindness in facilitating and assisting my office in putting this event together. This is yet another example of the steadily growing cooperation between OSAA and the African Union.
Africa has consistently been at the top of the Secretary-General’s agenda of priorities. In no other continent has the UN invested more time and resources. A great deal of UN peace-keeping, peace building and development activites is focused on the African continent.
The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) plays a key role, through the Regional Coordination Mechanism in support of African development, in partnership with the African Development Bank (ADB).
The United Nations office in West Africa (UNOWA) provides a structure to assist the West Africa region and ECOWAS in tackling cross cutting issues. Similar structures are soon to be established in other regions of the continent.
The progress experienced in the last decade in resolving conflicts, fostering economic development, trying to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and promoting human rights in the continent is, to a great extent, the result of the efforts of a new, stronger and more effective institutional landscape in Africa.
The Abuja Declaration on the establishment of the African Economic Community provides the overarching framework for continental economic integration. The African Union provides the backbone for Africa’s progress and integration. Africa’s regional economic communities are not only the key building blocks for economic integration in Africa, but also the key actors, in collaboration with the African Union, in ensuring peace and stability in their regions
Beyond their role in peace and security, RECs have the immense challenge of working with governments, civil society and the AU Commission in raising the standard of living of the people of Africa and contributing towards the progress and development of the continent through economic growth and social development.
It is precisely for this reason that the African Union has identified regional economic communities as essential for accelerated development in Africa. The UN and other international organizations understand the critical role that African Union and its regional groupings have to play in the achieving of the goals of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa.
The mandate given to my office is to enhance international support for Africa's peace and development; assist the Secretary-General in improving coherence and coordination of the UN system support to Africa, and mobilize the support of the international community for Africa.
With this briefing, my office and the Permanent Observer Mission of the AU here at the UN aim to enhance the awareness and understanding of UN Member States, with a view to generate greater support from the UN and the international community at large for the work, goals, aims and priorities of the AU and the RECs.
Such support is critical to strengthen their roles, meet their capacity constraints and foster the effectiveness of Africa’s Economic Communities in promoting peace and development in Africa.
It is the sincere hope of my office that this session has widened the scope of your understanding of the great work that is being done in the continent and that this will inspire your greater interest and commitment to enhance support for the African Union and its regional economic communities as they seek to achieve their twin goals of achieving durable peace and sustainable development in Africa.
Thank you for your kind attention.